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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

70                                                 MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

the use of the word, "probably", by medical officers in their post-mortem
reports, the Sessions Judge of Agra made the following interesting observa-
tions in the course of his judgment in the case of K. E. v. Gidlkandi charged
under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code : 

"I have already drawn the attention of the District Magistrate to the
deplorable manner in which medical evidence is often recorded in Magis-
trates' Court. Medical officers appear to derive some inward satisfaction
from the use of the word, "probably", in giving the cause of death "and
Magistrates blindly record such statements. In this case I had to ask the
Magistrate to recall for proper examination the medical officer whose evidence
was'for the purpose of this case vitiated by the use of the word, " probably ".
A medical officer should be asked, what, in his opinion, was the cause of
death and every effort should be made to root out the vagueness against
which I am perpetually fighting in Court in this, as in other matters."

In a case where a jugular vein and an external carotid artery were cut
in an incised wound, 4" X i" X 1", "the medical officer holding the post-
mortem examination gave an opinion that the deceased appeared to have
died from the wound of the neck thus implying that the actual cause of death
might be something else.

My advice to medical officers is that they must never hesitate to give a
definite opinion whenever they can reasonably do so. But in those cases,
where they are unable to find any cause of death, all the organs being healthy,
and there being no injury sufficient to account for death, they must mention
in their post-mortem report that they cannot come to any definite conclusion,
and in doing so they must explain their position by reasoning out all the
facts. In such cases it is advisable as a precautionary measure to preserve
the necessary viscera for chemical analysis and pieces of the brain, lungs,
liver, spleen, etc. for microscopic and bacteriologic examinations.

EXAMINATION OF DECOMPOSED BODIES

The examination should be complete and should be held on the same
lines as in ordinary autopsies. To save handwork on decomposed bodies
and thus to lessen the chances of septic poisoning a pair of hooks made of J"
iron or steel 9" long and with 3" bent in to form a handle is very convenient
for hooking up the abdominal and other incisions so as to keep the parts
open and also for opening the pericardium and hooking up the heart, lungs
and other organs.11

In cases of external fatal injuries it is not difficult to find out the cause
of death. In October 1930, the body of a Hindu male, 40 years old,-was,
brought in a very advanced state of decomposition with a police report that
" death was caused by the deceased being thrown into a well with the hands
and legs tied together ". On examination I found that the lower limbs were
flexed at the hip joints and passed over the trunk near the neck wnere the
hands, feet and neck were tied together by several turns of a loin cloth
(dhoti). The soft tissues from over the trunk had given way exposing the
thoracic and abdominal cavities. The buttocks and soft tissues of the upper
and lower limbs had been converted into adipocere. The windpipe and
gullet-were cut through below the thyroid cartilage. There were two cuts
obliquely .across the front of the left seventh rib and three vertical cuts
"through the upper part of the sternum near its junction with the" cartilage
.of"the left first rib. The thoracic and abdominal organs were mostly absent.
I gave my.opinion that the deceased was first killed by a wound on the
neck and stab wounds on the chest, and then tied with a dhoti and thrown
into a well (Fig._ 19).^

31   Circular $Q, 52 of the IG.CJL, UP,, 1910; The.U.P. Medical-Manual, 1934, p. 213;